Growing up in the late seventies, in the Middle East, I have witnessed the rise of successful career women who held important positions in political, social and educational institutions. They argued their way through, were respected, and made sure that things got done. These women, who were educated or not, had achieved numerous successes in several kinds of associations, companies, and businesses. Nevertheless when they were in social gatherings with other women, of all these successes and achievements, these career women would only mention how well they did raising their children, taking care of their husbands, and having a wonderful home. They always tried to make the point that their work never took over their family life, and tried to hide or downgrade their work commitments.
The stay-at-home mothers do not gain much respect for their accomplishments either. With all the talk and training that women get from their mothers on being good housewives, good mothers who follow their kids to the minute details, good wives in providing what their partner needs, they should be quite ready to do any task that family life throws their way. These women become wonderful cooks, have spotless homes, bus their children to and from activities, educate them, play with them, and on top of this provide all what their partner needs and asks for of support, and encouragement. But somehow, whenever these stay-at-home moms are within women’s circles, they are critiqued for their lack of social or political involvement, for their waste of their abilities, for throwing away their education, and so on. And the worst of it all, these women feel less and unworthy of being considered as successful.
It is quite important to notice how deeply women affect each others. They can be wonderful in empowering other women, as much as be destructive in their strong denial of the good residing in them. Respect alone of other women choices and commitments is not quite enough, there is a vital need to providing support and encouragement. Women can judge each other harshly, but this has to come to an end at some point. All it takes, in my opinion, is accepting that every woman is entitled to make the choices that she sees fit to her lifestyle. None of us women are similar in our conditions or circumstances. What works for me, might never work for you. But there is enough space in our societies for both of us: career women and stay-at-home mothers. And it would be really refreshing to be among women who recognize the difficulties and struggles of every choice, as well as their personal and social rewards.
And the question remains: If we as women are so judgmental on our own kind, can we expect anything less from the other gender?